Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
Hello again! I hope you guys are excited to see another chapter of my NaNo novel! Like I said before, it isn't done yet, but I'm doing my best to finish it up. I really hope you'll continue reading and reviewing like you did for our first chapter!
Image by littlemissy @ TDA. I officially adore her graphics with my whole heart. <3
My eyes widen, and I tip back the rest of my champagne into my mouth – a full glass – before I can look at the jolly bride with a less than miserable look on my face. During these receptions, I run as fast as I can to my friends and hide from my mum for the evening. Then, at the end of the night, she leaves for her honeymoon, gives me a quick kiss on the cheek and a few extra galleons, and Apparates to some magical, exotic locale.
Sometimes, though, Mum will find me, in times when Delia is drunk, Roxanne is coddling her, and something semi-attractive walked by Rose and caught her eye.
“Hi, Mum,” I nod at her, hoping she is too slammed to stick around and talk to me. Hell, I wouldn’t mind a bit if she went and stuck her tongue down Edward’s – or Edmond? Oh, damn it. I need to learn that man’s name – throat right in front of everyone, as long as she left me alone for the rest of the night. “It’s a beautiful reception. You must be proud.”
Parvati gives me a warm smile, which makes me grimace. I don’t have my mum’s smile. It’s one of the few things about my mum that I wish I’d inherited. Mum has perfect lips, tiny white teeth, and a tiny mole – a cute mole, not a disgusting one – right between her lip and her nose. Mum has a beautiful smile. Just like a few of my other qualities, I wonder where my smile came from. Perhaps from my father, whoever the hell that is.
“I am proud,” she nods with enthusiasm. “You did a marvelous job, my love. I’m proud of how well this turned out. Not that I expected anything less of you.”
“Oh,” I pause, surprised. Mum always throws me off balance whenever she responds to my coldness with kindness; I never expect that difference between us, but when it makes itself apparent in our rare conversations, I’m reminded that it is likely one of those things I took from my father’s gene pool and not my mother’s.
Mum does not usually recognize the fact that it is I who arranges her wedding and its reception to follow. I planned most aspects of the wedding in great detail because my mother is far too scatterbrained to do it herself. She gave me a few tidbits of opinion here and there, but for the most part, this wedding – and the past six – have been my own creation. If I was the kind of person who cared two Knuts about weddings, I would be spreading that information to everyone I know. However, I’m not the wedding type. I’ve been to far too many to be the wedding type.
“You’re proud of me?”
“Quite,” she smiles again, reaching out to smooth my hair away from my forehead. “You’re turning into such a lovely lady, Natalya.”
I freeze. I know where this heads. When she lays on the compliments like this, it’s because she wants me to do something. Oh, I can only imagine...
“You know, Nat – “
Here it comes.
“One of the groomsmen asked about you.”
“Which groomsman was it, Mum?” I ask with caution.
If I sound too interested right away, which I’m definitely not, Mum will grab my arm and yank me off to meet the boy, cooing about how we’ll make the perfect couple one day. if I don’t sound enthusiastic enough, Mum will still grab my arm and yank me off to meet the boy, instead murmuring about how necessary it is to try out a few ugly ducklings if I ever want to meet my swan – whatever that is supposed to imply.
However, if I balance my fear and my fake enthusiasm, I could be safe and be able to decide on my own if I will or will not dance with this groomsman. More than likely not, but possibly.
“The younger one, in the suit,” Parvati says in a vague manner, twirling a dark brown curl around her index finger. She beams at me, and I can tell she has had too much to drink already tonight.
I know the look in her eye when she has drank too much; she looks like Delia, her eyes a little glazed over but still sparkling with mirth. I have grown well-accustomed to that glaze and that sparkle with six other weddings to teach me all about it. That’s what a maid of honor is for, I suppose – pulling the bride, even if she is your adult mother, to the bathroom so she can vomit and not get her neon green bodily wastes all over her beautiful gown. Not that I’ve ever had to do that; my mother gets a little drunk at her weddings, but she’s always a classy drunk. Not a mess, as Delia tends to be.
Parvati points in the direction of a cluster of tuxedo-clad men. They are all rather handsome, which is a prerequisite for me to even talk to them, and none of them wear glasses. Well, if they are handsome and don’t wear glasses, they can’t possibly be that bad. Those are two of the things on my checklist, you see.
Oh, I suppose I never mentioned the checklist. It’s a major part of who I am, even if it makes me seem more neurotic than any girl my age should already be.
I, Natalya Padma Patil, am the most picky person in the world.
For example, I refuse to eat anything the Hogwarts house elves serve us at our meals unless they send up a list of ingredients for me; it’s not like I’m allergic to any of the ingredients or anything, but if one thing I don’t like is in the entree, I will refuse to eat it. Even if I can’t see, taste, or smell it in the dish, I will not put one bit of that food into my mouth.
In the same respect, I must analyze every boy I’m interested in, to decide if I am interested in him and if he meets enough of my expectations in order to spend any of my time around him. I have no intentions of becoming my mother – I don’t want to make a mistake in the man I marry, if I ever marry anyone at all. I want to know, one hundred percent in my heart and soul, that I will be with that man until the day I die, and if it isn’t possible to feel like that about a man, then I won’t get married at all. I doubt that my mother has ever felt that way.
“Which one is it, Mum?”
“The short one,” she adds, looking away like she knows she’s made a mistake.
When I spot who she describes, I cringe. Mum says short like it’s not that big of a deal, but the bloke is a good head shorter than the men with which he is standing. The hemline of his pants do not meet the top of his shoes, revealing his brown socks – honestly? Brown socks? With a black tuxedo? Oh, dear sweet Rowena, you have got to be kidding me.
“Mum, have you seen him?”
Parvati does not respond. She pats my shoulder twice, and then she whirls away in a cloud of white tulle and satin, leaving me free to be attacked by the groomsman. The evil woman even taps him on his shoulder and points towards me, defenseless and alone, when she walks past him. Oh, she is pure evil; I will swear to that on Rowena Ravenclaw’s grave.
And while I’m on the subject of people I hate, I hate Rose. Damn it, I hate Rose. Every single wedding, party, or event that we attend together, she finds a bloke to snog in a broom cupboard and leaves me alone and weak, ready for my mother to play matchmaker because she isn’t content with her daughter being much more intelligent and strong-willed than she is. This happens every damn year.
The brown-socked groomsman’s face lights up when he sees me standing there by myself, and he makes his way over to me. He does not say a word to me at first and gives me an awkward smile instead. If the immediate coldness he received from me as I glared at him from across the room didn’t make enough of a point, I wrinkle my nose at him before he can even open his mouth, and I look away in the opposite direction. Please, Rowena, send him away.
He apparently does not know how to handle situations where the girl he pursues has no interest in his advances – gee, imagine that. I would think he would be quite practiced in the art of the dash-away-and-never-come-back.
“Erm, hi,” he stammers after a few heavy, awkward moments, holding a hand out like he thinks I’m going to take it.
Oh, is he a comedian, then? Apparently so. I’m not touching him.
What a dorkified name.
“Hello,” I respond a moment later, trying to harness Rose’s aloofness, which chases away the boys she isn’t interested in and turn on the boys she is interested in, in my own tone. Turning my head in preparation to leave, I think I’m safe. Maybe he will let me go. Oh, wouldn’t that be something?
“Would you like to dance with me, Natalya?”
No, of course he can’t just let me walk away, accepting the fact that I’m much too good for him and letting it go.
I wrinkle my nose again. “How do you know my name?”
“Erm, we’ve gone to school together since our first year,” he replies, sounding confused.
Looking up at him – I have to look up, as I’m even shorter than Roxanne, thanks to my hereditary height issues – I try to remember seeing his face before now. Other than at the rehearsal dinner from the night before, where I saw him for a fleeting moment and thought him to be the ring bearer – yes, he does look that young – I don’t recall ever seeing him. Which isn’t a surprise, I tend to forget people that I don’t find worth remembering. And he, trust me, isn’t worth remembering.
He has that annoying style of haircut, where it’s in the awkward stage of being in between too short and too long, but not yet reaching the happy medium that I adore for blokes. It’s a mousy shade of brown, too, and I can see that at the crown of his head, it’s become a little shiny from a lack of washing. I prefer blondes, blondes with a mastering of hygiene. Conrad, however, does not seem to be well-acquainted with hygiene; he’s a future Potions professor at Hogwarts, with a lack of cleanliness like that. Definitely not a turn-on. Ew.
Conrad has muddy brown eyes, too; I like brown eyes, well enough, but they are not exactly the most attractive shade of brown. They truly remind me of mud. That simply will not do. My brown eyes? Gorgeous. Sparkling. Magnificent. Conrad’s brown eyes? Mud.
Oh, and he has acne. Now, as a witch, I know quite well that being of magical ability and having acne means you are not only unhygienic but also stupid. Who can’t cast a simple spell to rid their complexion of those disgusting red and white bumps? Only a complete wanker. And it appears that Conrad – oh, that name – is a complete wanker. A fact I ascertained already from the fact that he will not just go the hell away in his fucking brown socks.
“Oh, of course we have!” I lie after a few more seconds of examining his face, vying for a tiny part of him that I remember – or an even tinier part that’s worth committing to memory. It’s a useless search, however. I would forget who he was if he walked away right now and came back with a drink for me half an hour later. Which will likely happen.
Conrad grins now, content in thinking that I would remember him. Oh, the little tosspot wishes he was.
“Would you like to dance?” he repeats himself, like I’ve suddenly changed my mind.
“Erm, not with you,” I respond.
Okay. I know that was the rudest possible answer that I could have given the bloke, but come on. Do you think I’m going to dance with him!? He has greasy hair! And acne. Acne. Who was the last wizard you know of that has acne anymore? Did the owners and innovators behind Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes’ Wonder Witch products not rid the world of that problem?
Yes, I know, I’m a bitch. Thank you for reminding me. At least I’m not Rose.
Conrad looks like I slapped him, or kicked his Pygmy Puff, (which I heard him talking about to some of the other groomsmen; it’s bright yellow and named Fluffernutter, an ingenious, cute name for a Pygmy Puff, I will admit – even though he’s a bloke) or something almost as horrific. He should have known this was coming, though. I knew this was coming – well, because it was coming from me, but that’s beside the point, I think.
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sorry, Conrad,” I feel a little guilty now. I can never seem to be as cruel as Rose. I wish I had no conscience like her. It would make things like this so much easier. “But – “
Before I have a need to come up with some excuse for not wanting to dance with him other than the cruel one I blurted out, I’m interrupted. Most people in a situation like this would call the interruption their savior, fall in love with him, and spent the rest of their life doing anything to make the interruption happy. I, on the other hand, am not so naive.
After all, my interruption comes in the gangly, glasses-wearing, green-eyed, overall messy form of Albus Severus Potter, a bloke who is quite proud of the ridiculous name he bears.
Albus – who I refer to as Allie in a not-so affectionate manner because it drives him up a bloody wall – puts his arm around my waist, his hand landing just a few centimeters short of dangerous territory, and gives a cordial greeting to Conrad.
“Wotcher, mate,” he says in a friendly manner, holding out his hand to shake Conrad’s. “Albus Potter, and you are?”
After the nervous Conrad stammers out, “Conrad Hotchkiss” to my “savior”, Albus continues at a breakneck speed. I guess he assumes that he has about two minutes before I break his neck and stab him in the balls with the heel of my silver pumps – and he assumes right.
“Good to meet you, mate,” Albus grins. “I’m glad you kept my girl occupied, otherwise she might have noticed how late I was, and that would have been bad – very, very, very bad.”
“Your – your girl?” Conrad’s eyes widen. He looks quite frightened now. “Oh...”
People in our year – as Conrad apparently is – live their lives in awe of the Potters. James Potter, who is two years older than me and, if I’m lucky, in attendance at this wedding reception, is one of the few blokes who I find completely in accordance with my expectations – minus his passion for Quidditch, but his overall gorgeousness and incredible personality evens that little bump out – and the king of Hogwarts, at least when he was still in school.
When he left the school, James passed on his legacy to his younger brother, Albus, and his younger sister, Lily. People cower at the feet of those two, especially Albus, the oldest Potter at Hogwarts now. Only people like me know that the Potters don’t deserve worship – except for, perhaps, James – and fear; they are nerdy at heart and not cruel at all.
Why worship and fear someone who loves wizard’s chess more than snogging and would never hurt a puffskein?
If I was Albus’ girl, Albus would be okay with me dancing with Conrad, although I would never do it – nor would I ever be Albus’ girl. No one realizes Albus is that kind of person, though. A vast majority of Hogwarts students still stop in their tracks whenever a Potter is around them, if only because their father saved our entire magical existence – oh, pish-posh, like that’s important.
Conrad is no different from anyone else. Which I kind of expected, since he is so unfortunately – or fortunately, if you ask me – forgettable.
“You’re together?” he questions.
“It’s been a year,” Albus nods with enthusiasm.
I try to force a smile. I don’t have to see my own face to know I’m grimacing at Conrad instead of smiling, but the bloke thought my cold reception was a warm welcome, so he won’t notice the difference this time.
Okay, so I guess you all can tell that I am not a huge fan of Albus Severus Potter, right? Well, even that statement does not seem to cover it all. I despise Albus Severus Potter with every fiber of my being, and every second I’m forced to spend around him makes me want to rip out my fingernails and poke my own eyes out of my sockets. Yeah, I think that about covers it. Somewhat.
And no. I don’t have any logical reasoning with which I hate Albus Potter. I just do. I mean, he is who he is, and I hate who he is. Why do I need reasoning?
Remember what I said about my expectations? Well, they are high. Unbelievably high. I require boys to be gorgeous and tall and fit, and they can’t play Quidditch or be smarter than me. I prefer blondes with brown eyes, no glasses, and a nice, put-together wardrobe. He can’t have any facial hair whatsoever, and I cringe over chest hair, too. He can’t be cocky or conceited, and he most definitely can’t be possessive over me at all. If he’s clingy, he has got to go. If he feels the need to touch me all the damn time, he has got to go. No Weasleys, no Potters.
And no nerdy little boys who people refuse to see for who they really are.
Now, do you know how many of those categories into which Albus Severus Potter does not fit? A whole fucking lot of them. (In fact, I can only think of one that he does fit in; he does not have any facial hair and no chest hair, which is information I didn’t find out on purpose.)
But does Potter seem to realize that I want nothing to do with him, because of how much better than him I am?
No. He has no fucking clue.
The bloke follows me around all the fucking time. I would say it’s because he just likes the chase, but he doesn’t chase girls on a regular basis. In fact, he doesn’t even date girls. He avoids them, which is pathetic but somewhat admirable. Somewhat. Except when you remember that, while he does not chase or date most girls, he does chase me.
Not date me, though. He will never date me. I will never date Albus Severus Potter. I’m sure of that.
Conrad nods his head, probably trying to think of how he could have missed something this important. People like him, the worshippers of the Potters, think they should know everything there is to know about the life of Albus Potter.
I scoff. What insanity.
“Erm, my apologies, mate,” Conrad finally spits out, and he dashes off in the opposite direction to cry to Fluffernutter about the drop-dead gorgeous girl who got away.
When he is completely out of sight, I glare at Albus. His arm is still around my waist. This is the second worst male encounter I have had today, the first being Conrad. Albus should feel proud. On a regular basis, he is my worst male encounter. I really dislike him…
“Do you mind getting far, far, far away from me now, Potter?” I suggest icily, trying to slide away from the bloke so I can find Rose in her broom cupboard.
Albus smirks, much like Rose – I see how they are related now – and tightens his grip around my waist. I repress the urge to slap him. “You know, I kind of like having my arm around you like this.”
“Allie,” I threaten, hoping this will do the trick. He despises that nickname.
“Oh, Natalya, come on,” he smirks a little wider and leans in closer to me, his lips only six or so centimeters away from my neck. He expects me to feel something earth-stopping, I bet, but I only feel irritated. “You know you like being this close to me.”
I try to shove him away; it should work, seeing as he isn’t all that much taller than I am and much thinner. However, he does not budge even the tiniest bit, and I frown. Hidden muscle.
He loosens his grip for a second, perhaps because I called him Albus. I don’t call him Albus often. Usually it’s Potter, with the most loathing of tones, and if I’m feeling particularly rude, it’s Allie. Never Albus.
Which is exactly my plan. He loosened his grip on my arm because he thought he had finally made some sort of breakthrough with me. Silly little Potter thinks he finally got through to the stubborn Ravenclaw who refuses to swoon over his nerdiness like every other Hogwarts female that isn’t related to him. He thinks that because I called him by his first name, I’m going to spin around and snog him right here at my mum’s wedding. At least, I think that’s what he thinks. Being a Potter, he would be just that stupid. Even though, I hate to admit, he isn’t that stupid. That’s another matter, though. Another matter entirely.
“In the name of love? Or just in general?”
I groan. I thought he misinterpreted my use of his first name, but, as usual, I’m outsmarted by Albus Potter. I hate having to admit that. He is smarter than me, damn it, and I hate admitting that to other people. He can’t even fall for things that most people would, just to help me out a little bit. Oh, no. He has to see right through me and have some witty response to me every single time.
I hate Albus Severus Potter.
“Will you just get off me?”
“You better get used to spending this much time around me, Natalya,” he tells me, squeezing my waist again. His hand yet again drops towards the boundary line between aggravated tolerance and bitch-slapping him across his handsome cheekbones.
“And why the fuck would I do that?”
He does not blink at my profanity, even though I know quite well that the great, powerful Albus Potter does not swear in the slightest. (Him and Roxanne, man... if they weren’t cousins, I bet you twenty galleons that he would be all over that. I should tell her that one day, just to see her blush and squirm.)
“Because we’re getting married after we graduate, of course,” he responds in a singsong voice.
“Potter!” I scream.
Half of the reception guests stop in their tracks to look in my direction, and they seem disappointed when they see that I’m scowling at Albus and not smiling. What, did they expect us to be shagging in a corner and me to be screaming his name in ecstasy? For the love of Rowena, people. Grow some brain cells...
Albus laughs at my outburst, and the reception guests seem more consoled by this; perhaps they now assume that Albus did something dirty they couldn’t see, and that’s why I screamed. These people are, like Albus, in the idiotic state of mind of thinking Albus and I belong together. Typical. Everyone is against me.
“Alright, alright,” he relents, pulling his arm away and crossing his arms over his chest. “You’ve got quite the temper for someone so tiny.”
“And you’ve got quite large pants for someone with such a small penis,” I retort, and then I try to hide my surprise that I came up with a comeback with such ease. Usually it takes me a minute or so before I have a good one, and then I lose my chance. Yet again, I wish I could be like Rose. She always has a comeback prepared, as if she knows what the person she verbally spars with is going to say to her.
Potter merely laughs at me and nods his head. “Well, enjoy the reception, Natalya.”
I narrow my eyes at him. “I don’t plan on it.”
“I’m sorry for calling you tiny, then,” he says, as if that’s what has ruined the rest of my evening at my mother’s wedding reception. Ha. As if. “I didn’t mean to ruin your night for you.”
“No,” I shake my head, not bothering to accept his apology. I don’t accept it, so why bother lying? I dislike lying. Well, that isn’t true. I lie often, especially if it’s to save face. But that’s kind of where my point lies – I say I dislike lying so that I can be a rude little bitch and not accept someone’s apology because I know I don’t believe their apology. You get it? Good. (Yeah, I don’t get it either.) “You didn’t ruin my night. My night ruined my night.”
Albus laughs again, and then he pretends to tip the invisible hat on his head like a true gentleman – freak. “Good evening, Miss Patil. It was a pleasure to be in your company,” he tells me with a wink, and then he is gone.
I cross my arms over my chest, shaking my head at his disappearing back. “I hate Albus Severus Potter,” I tell myself, more of a reminder than anything else.
The introduction of Albus. ;) I do love Albus. How do you all feel about him? And feel free to critique Natalya as much as you'd like, because she knows that she deserves it. :)